LAWRENCES’ last major catalogued sale of the year took place in Crewkerne on December 8 and comprised books, letters, manuscripts, maps and photographs.

Highlights were many and an early success was for a unique copy of Francis Bacon’s 'Of Gardens', embellished with original watercolour illustrations by Allan Vigers in 1904. The exquisite and painstaking craftsmanship lifted the price to £3,050. An album of 73 mounted photographs of Persia and India dated from c.1880 and made £2,680; Rudolf Ackermann’s 'History of the University of Cambridge..' from 1815 included 79 hand-coloured aquatints and made £3,050; Adam Smith’s seminal 'Wealth of Nations' (1778) in two volumes, a major analysis of economic principles, had belonged to a distinguished professor at the London School of Economics and soared to £15,250; and Simeon Solomon’s ,A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, (1871) was bid to a double-estimate £3,660.

Two particular surprises came towards the end of the 500-lot sale. A charming 1893 letter by Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, to a Miss Ruby Paulson expressed regret that 'Sherlock has become very lazy..' but noted nonetheless that the eminent detective had judged intuitively that the girl’s father would be about 45 years of age, that the girl’s hair was brown, that she was a clever girl 'with a turn for everything except mathematics'. Offered with its envelope, the informal letter with its kindly and avuncular tone attracted many bids before being bought for £9,000.

Three lots related to Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) and to his wife, Emile. The Schindlers were credited with saving the lives of over 1000 Jewish holocaust victims, commemorated in Thomas Keneally’s 'Schindler’s Ark' (1982) and Steven Spielberg’s film 'Schindler’s List'. One lot comprised a small personal archive of correspondence, photographs and personal effects that had belonged to Emile Schindler ('thank you ..for having restored my faith in mankind'); a second lot was an Omega gold automatic wristwatch, reputedly Oskar’s own; and the final lot included a lady’s 18ct gold watch with other small items of jewellery. Against hopes of £1,900, these three lots reached £20,900, each bought by the same determined bidder.